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Punishing the individual or the group for norm violation [version 1; peer review: awaiting peer review]

El Zein, M; Seikus, C; De-Wit, L; Bahrami, B; (2019) Punishing the individual or the group for norm violation [version 1; peer review: awaiting peer review]. Wellcome Open Research , 4 , Article 139. 10.12688/wellcomeopenres.15474.1. Green open access

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Abstract

Background: It has recently been proposed that a key motivation for joining groups is the protection from consequences of negative behaviours, such as norm violations. Here we empirically test this claim by investigating whether cooperative decisions and the punishment of associated fairness-based norm violations are different in individuals vs. collectives in economic games. Methods: In the ultimatum game, participants made or received offers that they could reject at a cost to their outcome, a form of social punishment. In the dictator game with third-party punishment, participants made offers to a receiver while being observed by a punisher, or could themselves punish unfair offers. Results: Participants made lower offers when making a collective rather than an individual decision. This difference correlated with participants’ overall mean offers: those who were generally less generous were even less so in a group, suggesting that the collective structure was compatible with their intention. Participants were slower when punishing vs not punishing an unfair offer. Importantly here, they were slower when deciding whether to punish groups as compared to individuals, only when the offer concerned them directly in second party punishment. Participants thus seem reluctant to punish others, and even more so when facing a group of proposers. Conclusions: Together, these results show that people behave differently in a group, both in their willingness to share with others and in their punishment of norm violations. This could be explained by the fact that being in a collective structure allows to share responsibility with others, thereby protecting from negative consequences of norm violations.

Type: Article
Title: Punishing the individual or the group for norm violation [version 1; peer review: awaiting peer review]
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.12688/wellcomeopenres.15474.1
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.12688/wellcomeopenres.15474.1
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2019 El Zein M et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: Social punishment, shared responsibility, group decisions, fairness, norm violations, individual differences
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10082488
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